Kingdon (1995) describes agenda setting in public policymaking as a function of the confluence of three streams of activity: problems, possible solutions to the problems, and political circumstances. Some people prefer the term "issue" to Kingdon's choice of "problem" to refer to something that might trigger policymaking (Gormley and Boccuti 2001). It really does not matter which term is used; we will use "problem" to be consistent with Kingdon's terminology. In his conceptualization, when problems/possible solutions/political circumstances flow together in a favorable alignment, a "policy window" (Kingdon 1995, 166) or "window of opportunity" opens. When this happens, a problem/potential solution combination that might lead to a
Agenda Setting as the Confluence ofProblems, Possible Solutions, and Political Circumstances
Possible Solutions — Political Circumstances
A Place on the Policy Agenda new public law or an amendment to an existing one emerges from the set of competing problem/possible solution combinations and moves along in the policymaking process (see Figure 5.2).
Current health policies in the form of public laws, such as those pertaining to environmental protection, licensure of health-related practitioners and organizations, funding for AIDS research or for women's health, and regulation ofpharmaceuticals, exist because problems or issues emerged from agenda setting and triggered changes in policy in the form of changes in public law. However, the mere existence of problems in these areas was not sufficient to trigger the development of legislation intended to address them.
The existence of health-related problems, even very serious ones such as millions of people without adequate health insurance coverage or the continuing widespread use of tobacco products, does not invariably lead to the establishment of policies intended to solve or ameliorate these problems. There also must be potential solutions to the problems as well as the political will to enact specific legislation intended to solve or ameliorate the problems. Obviously, agenda setting is crucial to the nature of the nation's health policies. Agenda setting is best understood in the context of its three key variables: problems, possible solutions, and political circumstances.
Was this article helpful?
Achieve the Fitness and Wellness for You that you have always wanted by learning the facts so you can take the right steps to maximize your health. Learn How to Achieve Real Fitness and Wellness for a Healthy Body, Mind and Spirit to Improve Your Quality of Life in Today's World. Receive Valuable Information to Discover What Really Matters and What Actually Works in Finding Genuine Wholeness for All Aspects of Your Being.